I’ve notice how personal reading is for me — and I figure for most people. I don’t much read New Republic. Instead, I read Brian Beutler and Elizabeth Bruenig. I’m not so much interested in being informed, because I get that by reading more general things. But I’m interested in what these people have to say. And there isn’t much reason for it. It’s a question of trust or identity. They are people who I can imagine having over for dinner without wanting to murder them. Something like that.
I wonder if it is the same way around here. I assume that it is. The point cannot be to learn about the world, but to learn about what I think of the world. And that’s fine. I do have an outlook on life that isn’t totally unworthy of listening to. I try to be something slightly more than what you will read elsewhere. And there are things — generally related to puppets or Don Quixote — that you won’t read anywhere else. But it does create a bit of a problem when I get quite personal. I don’t write to get a reaction. I write because that is what I do. It is the way that I think about things — the way that I process the world.
After being away from home for five days, I find that I am totally out of sorts. I’ve heard this about cats. They hate it when their worlds are upset. If you do so much as move the couch, they freak out. I feel that way. I hate for my routine to be upset. And it was many times this last week. First there was a day wasted driving. Then I had to work in an unfamiliar environment that worked okay — but not great. And then there was the drive back. And ever since, I’ve been filled with debilitating anxiety.
This morning, rather than work, I put on Calvary. When I first watched it, I wrote, Calvary and the Lost Art of Forgiveness. As you can tell from that review, I saw that film in a hopeful way. But this time, it seemed like an allegory of hell. I had noticed this originally, “If he isn’t killed with a bullet to the head, he will be killed with a thousand cuts.” The denouement seems like the greatest act of kindness in the film. The world is evil. It is not surprising that the early Christians would come up with the idea of original sin.
But where does that leave an atheist like myself? I don’t go in for the “thoughtless cynicism” of the townspeople. And I certainly don’t think that the murder of Father James in “Calvary” does a damned thing to fix the problem. Even more, if you look to the Bible, what happened to Judas Iscariot? By church tradition, he either killed himself or was otherwise killed gruesomely. It’s a contradiction, right? In order for Jesus to wash away our sins, he had to be murdered, but Christians hate Judas for facilitating their salvation. If I were a Christian, I would think it Judas who truly suffered (and continues to suffer) for our sins.
It’s all brain chemistry, of course. Whether we feel good or bad, it is just the chemicals swimming around our bodies. Some days I reflect that today would be a very bad day to die. That, I suppose is the illusion. Because those are the days that I want to get things done. Self-actualization is a happy delusion — one I hope to get back in the next couple of days. But I think the way I feel today is much more clear-eyed. I don’t want to die. I just don’t especially care. If I could wed this person I am today with the energetic and happy person I expect to soon be, that would be something: to take joy in the activities of life, even while knowing that it is pointless and that it doesn’t matter if I am here tomorrow to continue on with the happy pointlessness of life.